Nemanja Vidic is shown a red card against Chelsea.

Nemanja Vidic is shown a red card against Chelsea. Photo: AFP

Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic has contradicted manager David Moyes by saying the reigning champions can no longer win the Premier League title this season following their defeat by Chelsea.

Sunday's 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge left United a huge 14 points behind leaders Arsenal with just 16 games of the season remaining.

Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o scored a hattrick to expose United's defensive frailties and the defeat was compounded for the visitors when Vidic was sent off late on for a rash challenge on Eden Hazard.

Asked if United were now too far adrift of Arsenal to retain their title, centre-back Vidic told Sky Sports: "Yes, I think so now we are too far behind. We have to focus now to get in the top three, top four. We have to be positive."

Of more immediate concern for United is that they are six points adrift of the top four, with the once unthinkable prospect of failing to qualify for the Champions League now a possibility.

"It's not going to be easy but we have to now fight for different things," said Vidic.

"We have to focus on the (League) Cup and the Champions League. It's never easy but we have to stay positive, we have to stick together, we have to work hard to change the things around."

By contrast, a defiant Moyes - in his first season as United manager since succeeding the retired Alex Ferguson - insisted after Sunday's match that he would not "throw the towel in".

"The job's to try and finish first and we'll keep trying to do that. There's no clever answers except, 'Try and win the next game'," Moyes said.

"I think before today (Sunday), we came into it and we'd lost one game in the league in six - not a bad run.

"And I didn't think there was a big difference in the teams today, I didn't at all. The difference was two set-pieces and nothing else."

United have now been beaten seven times in the league, having lost five games or fewer in each of the past three seasons, but Moyes said that he did not feel under any added pressure.

Asked how his confidence was holding up, the former Everton manager replied: "Fine. It's a difficult task, but perseverance, keep doing what's right - I thought we did a lot of good things today."

Moyes was once again without injured first-choice strike pair Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, and when asked if they would return to training on Monday, he would only reply: "I hope so."

AFP